Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections by Michelle Schaub, illustrated by Carmen Saldaña

Published by Charlesbridge

Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections: Michelle Schaub ...

review + giveaway] Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections ...

Summary:  A school assignment to share a collection leaves the narrator wondering what she should bring.  Her classmates seem excited about their showing their arrowheads, marbles, and teddy bears, but she doesn’t collect anything.  She interviews family members and friends, creating poems about each of them: her mother’s buttons, her brother’s baseball cards, an aunt’s license plates–even the mail carrier’s collection of smiling faces.  The last page shows her back at school, surrounded by kids with samples of their collections on their desks. She’s not worried now, though, because she has a collection of her own–a book of poems. 32 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  A charming first poetry book for primary grade kids by the author of Fresh-Picked PoetryReaders may be inspired to start a collection, write a poem, or do both.

Cons:  This book actually came out in 2019.  

If you would like to buy this book from the Odyssey Bookshop, click here.

Cast Away: Poems for Our Time by Naomi Shihab Nye

Published by Greenwillow Books

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Summary:  Young People’s Poet Laureate Nye has written 84 poems with the theme of trash.  Many are about found objects that she or someone else has discovered on the streets, beaches, in a trash bin, or some other location.  An eight-page introduction tells of her lifelong interest in keeping things tidy and some of the rewards she has discovered from picking up trash.  The poems are divided into five sections: Sweepings, Titters & Tatters, Odds & Ends, Willy-Nilly, and Residue. A final section gives kids ten ideas for writing, recycling, and reclaiming.  Includes an index of the poems by first lines. 176 pages; grades 5 and up.

Pros:  This is a fun topic for poetry.  Most of the poems are brief, but thought-provoking, and will inspire kids to look more closely at the world around them.

Cons:  While this seems like a collection intended for elementary students, I think many of the poems would go over the heads of most kids under the age of 10.  The introductory poem, “Taking Out the Trash” by Kamilah Aisha Moon feels more like an adult work.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Published by Roaring Brook Press

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Image result for black is a rainbow color angela joy

Summary:  A girl looks at the colors in her crayon box and in a rainbow, and realizes there’s no black in rainbows.  But her color is black, and she looks at what else is black: a feather in the snow, her best friend’s hair, her bicycle tires.  From there, she moves to the black in Black culture: Thurgood Marshall’s robe, birds in cages that sing, raisins and dreams left out in the sun to die.  Finally, she moves on to the history, family, memory, and love that are all part of her and her community. “So you see, there is no black in rainbows.  No black in green or blue.  But in my box of crayons, Black is a rainbow, too.”  Includes an author’s note; a playlist of 11 songs; two pages with further information on some of the allusions in the main text; 3 poems; a timeline of black ethnonyms (words that have been used to refer to Black people) over the course of American history; and a bibliography.  40 pages; ages 4 and up.

Pros:  This beautiful poem with its stunning illustrations (they reminded me of stained glass) is a deceptively simple introduction to Black culture and history.

Cons:  Most sources recommend this book for ages 4-8, but the references in the main text and the extensive back matter could make this a useful resource for any age and would be even more meaningful for older kids.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

Five Favorite Poetry Books

Lots of good poetry books to choose from this year.  Here are a few that I especially enjoyed.

 

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis

Published by Candlewick

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I didn’t find many new holiday books in 2019.  This beautifully illustrated version of Susan Cooper’s poem celebrating the winter solstice will be enjoyed for many Decembers to come.

 

I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Published by Lee & Low Books

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Neither the title nor the cover really drew me in, but I loved this book once I got past that.  Poems and illustrations by a variety of writers and artists celebrate childhoods from all around the world.

 

Poetree by Shauna LaVoy Reynolds, illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani

Published by Dial Books for Young Readers

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This picture book celebrates the power of words and would make a perfect introduction to poetry for early elementary students.

 

16 Words: William Carlos Williams and “The Red Wheelbarrow” by Lisa Rogers, illustrated by Chuck Groenink

Published by Schwartz and Wade

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I didn’t know I wanted to read a picture book of William Carlos Williams until I found 16 Words.  Another good one to share with students during a poetry unit, and a nice accompaniment to Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog, which includes the poem “The Red Wheelbarrow.”

 

The Day the Universe Exploded My Head by Allan Wolf, illustrated by Anna Raff

Published by Candlewick

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Now here’s a cover and title that draws you in immediately.  Proves, once again, that poetry can be fun and educational, too.

 

It’s not just the Caldecott

Although we in the children’s literature world tend to focus on the Newbery and Caldecott, check out the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards to see all the other categories that are recognized at the same time.  Here are a few picture books that I believe are worthy of consideration for some of those.

 

Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Published by Versify

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I love Kwame Alexander’s poem, but I think it’s illustrator Kadir Nelson who is most likely to be recognized with a Coretta Scott King award this year for his amazing portraits of the African Americans Alexander writes about.

 

The Women Who Caught the Babies: A Story of African American Midwives by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Daniel Minter

Published by Alazar Press

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This one could go either way for the Coretta Scott King award: both the poems and the illustrations are pretty amazing.

 

Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou by Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Tonya Engel

Published by Lee & Low Books

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Pity that Coretta Scott King committee who has so many worthy contenders to choose from this year.

 

¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market! by Raul the Third

Published by Versify

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I will be pretty surprised if Raúl the Third doesn’t get some sort of Pura Belpré recognition for his Richard Scarry-like illustrations of this trip to the market.  I was happy to learn recently that Let’s Go Eat! is coming out in March.

 

A Place to Land: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Published by Neal Porter Books

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And one more Coretta Scott King possibility.  Of course, all of these could be contenders for the Caldecott as well.  Truth be told, I dreamed up this blog post because there were so many I wanted to put on the Caldecott prediction post, and for some reason I always limit myself to five.

I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Published by Lee and Low Books

Image result for i remember poems and pictures of heritage lee bennett

Image result for i remember poems and pictures of heritage lee bennett

Summary:  Fourteen poets have written childhood remembrances, with an emphasis on their cultural heritage and how it shaped them.  Each poem is illustrated by a different artist, and every artist and poet has written a sentence or two about their art or writing.  Some (“Grandpa” by Douglas Florian; “Amazing Auntie Anne” by Cynthia Leitich Smith) celebrate a person; others (“Route 66” by Marilyn Nelson; “Tepechapa River” by Jorge Tetl Argueta), a particular place; and still others (“Speak Up” by Janet S. Wong; “Pick One” by Nick Bruel) speak to the experience of growing up as an immigrant in America.  Includes brief biographical information and photos of all the writers and illustrators. 56 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  This beautiful and accessible collection of poetry and artwork shows readers the variety of experiences in America and may inspire them to find a way to express their own story through writing or art.

Cons:  The cover and title didn’t really grab me (sorry, Sean Qualls, I generally love your work); I was pleasantly surprised once I dove in.  

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

 

 

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

The Women Who Caught the Babies:  A Story of African American Midwives by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Daniel Minter

Published by Alazar Press

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Image result for women who caught the babies minter

Summary:  Eloise Greenfield kicks things off with a five-page introduction giving a brief history of midwives, starting in Africa a few hundred years ago, traveling to slavery in America, and finishing up with midwives today.  This section is illustrated with black and white photographs. The rest of the book is her poetry, celebrating midwives of the past and present. There are seven poems altogether, from “Africa to America” to “After Emancipation, 1863” to “The Early 2000s”.  The final piece, “Miss Rovenia Mayo” is about the midwife who “caught” Eloise Greenfield on May 17, 1929. Includes a bibliography. 32 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  We should all hope to be producing works of art like this at the age of 90.  The poetry is lyrical and the illustrations are unique and fascinating. The Caldecott committee can add this to its list of works to consider, along with another Daniel Minter book, Going Down Home With Daddy.

Cons:  This doesn’t seem like a book most kids will pick up on their own. 

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.